Opening Pandora’s Box: AI, ChatGPT, and the Mystery of Consciousness

Monday, April 3, 2023 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

In light of the emergence of ChatGPT and the hysteria around it, it would not be an understatement to suggest that we are getting close to Alan Turing’s dream of creating an intelligent machine, a machine indiscernible from a human being in conversation. But will engineers ever be able to design an AI with human-level consciousness, as proclaimed by such AI enthusiasts as Kurzweil, Bostrom, Harari, and others? In this talk, Dr. Muhammad Faruque argues for the impossibility of this dream, which rests on a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the nature of consciousness. In contrast to most contemporary theories of consciousness that either treat it as an “epiphenomenon” or “psychologize” it in terms of qualia or subjective feel, Dr. Faruque makes the case that consciousness is always fundamental, at once self-luminous and self-cognizant. The problem of AI ultimately hinges on how we define our values, selfhood, and personhood, which ultimately determines what it means to be human in a technocentric world.

 SPEAKER BIO: Muhammad U. Faruque is Assistant Professor and a Taft Center Fellow at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his PhD with distinction from the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Exchange Scholar at Harvard University and as George Ames Postdoctoral Fellow at Fordham University. His highly acclaimed book Sculpting the Self (University of Michigan Press, 2021) addresses “what it means to be human” in a secular, post-Enlightenment world by exploring notions of selfhood and subjectivity in Islamic and non-Islamic philosophies, including modern philosophy and neuroscience. Dr. Faruque is the author of three books and over forty academic articles, which have appeared (or are forthcoming) in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Philosophy East and West, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge), The Journal of Sufi Studies (Brill), and Ancient Philosophy. He has also delivered lectures at many North American, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern universities.


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The AlGhazali Islamic Studies Program UCF Department of Philosophy